11/9/07

.... I Still Have Cooking Block...but in the morning I'm making waffles!

Sigh... I still have cooking block. Katie says it's because I had such a cooking flourish that I was bound to become dormant for awhile. Jeez, I sound like a tree or a bush. What a comforting thought. This week I went back to my standards.

Monday: I can't even remember what we had. That's not good.

Tuesday: Krabby Patties. If you watch SpongeBob Squarepants, you already know what we had. If not, and you need a translator, we had hamburgers. My little chefs named them after watching way too much TV. I remember a long time ago reading an interview with Julia Child. One of her favorite meals was a good hamburger, done right, with iceberg lettuce, red onions, and tomatoes. Man, was she right, it hit the spot. All I can tell you is to make sure you butter the inside of the buns and toast them under the broiler or face down on the grill. That is the extra step that makes a good burger fantastic.

Wednesday: Homemade mac 'n cheese. I'm guilty of stealing this recipe from Tyler Florence. Cringe. But it really is good.
Here's the recipe:

Kosher salt

1 pound elbow macaroni

4 cups milk

2 or 3 sprigs thyme

4 cloves garlic, smashed and divided

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

5 1/2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves

smashed leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh thyme


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small saucepan heat the milk with the thyme sprigs and 2 garlic cloves. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming. Strain the solids out of the milk and whisk it into the butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is nice and smooth. Stir in the 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture. Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
While that bakes, heat a saute pan. Add the bacon, render the fat and cook until crispy. Add onion, garlic and thyme leaves and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, scatter the bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Use a big spoon to scoop out servings, making sure you get some of the smoking bacon mixture on each spoonful.

The only thing I do different is add a lot more bacon and mix it throughout the mac 'n cheese instead of scattering on top. Trust me, it's much better. Ironically, when I was a child, we had mac 'n cheese every Wednesday night. From a box. I hated it and resisted mac 'n cheese for a long time and I think you can understand why. Really, from a box? My dad had no love.

Thursday: Waffles. Who can resist waffles? Even The Man, Rich, likes waffles. A couple of words; Carbon's Golden Malted Original Pancake & Waffle Flour. Best. Mix. Ever. I don't think anything or anybody can do it better. Seriously, it's an epiphany. It's so good, you'll wonder how you lived without it. If I really had to, I trade in my youngest sous chef for that mix. It's that good.

Tonight: I think I might have broken my cooking block. I really haven't, but positive thinking can't hurt, right? Tonight we are having steak, sauteed mushrooms, and risotto. Hopefully cooking block doesn't turn into cooking badly.